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Why the Course Industry is Broken

Why the Course Industry is Broken

According to Class Central, there were 110,000,000 enrolled in online courses worldwide in 2019. It is amazing how many people enrolled in online courses. But the question is, how many actually completed the course, or dropped out after the first lesson. A recent study showed that 52% of course participants never look at courseware. Over five years, the average dropout rate is 96%. We’ll be discussing the top 10 reasons students don’t succeed online learning. This checklist is useful for eLearning businesses and anyone who is involved in online teaching.(why the course industry is broken)

A word on the Global Situation

Due to the global lockdown and the COVID-19 outbreak, distance learning (and particularly eLearning) became the only viable way to learn. This has led the industry to experience an unprecedented rise in demand.

This situation presents eLearning businesses with great growth opportunities and lots of pressure. Only those who are able to deal with millions of newcomers and respond quickly to them will succeed in increasing their revenue.(why the course industry is broken)

Do You Want to Make the Most Of This Situation?

We reviewed existing research on online education dropouts to identify 10 factors that hinder students from finishing their courses fully. Let’s see if your eLearning company is ready to offer seamless customer service and retain the majority of your students.

1. Difficulties in Adaptation

The online classroom is an entirely new learning environment for many students. This is why it is important to learn how to adapt to online learning. You risk losing potential students if the platform is too complex.

why the course industry is broken


While the majority of the responsibility for this task falls on students, there are still things you can do to make sure they succeed in online classes. You can help speed up and simplify the process by creating useful materials on online learning such as FAQs and induction training. These will provide information about the benefits of online education, and tips for organizing the education process better.

California State University Channel Islands, for example, has created a whole course called Learning Online 101 that helps students adapt to online learning.(why the course industry is broken)

2. Wrong Expectations

These are faulty expectations that can lead to frustration and even dropouts.


This problem can be mitigated by sharing all information possible about the course.

  • Lessons and topics covered in the course
  • Experience and qualifications of teachers
  • Training required
  • The time that learners should dedicate to the course is broken down by module.
  • Scope objectives and course outcomes
  • After completing each module, and the entire course, you will have gained skills.

Although this won’t stop students from not reading the course description and then dropping out because they needed another, it will ensure that we know we have done our part.

3. Technical issues

Students are not motivated by slowdowns or bugs in the eLearning platform. It could lead to students abandoning the course. Your online platform may be affected by the increased demand for online education during the COVID-19 lockdown, even if it has not experienced any technical problems.(why the course industry is broken)

Rapid growth in website traffic can put a lot of strain on servers and cause outages or crashes. Speed losses can also occur for users who are located far away from the servers.

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You need to create a flexible, scalable server infrastructure to ensure smooth eLearning experiences for students. This includes optimizing content with adaptive delivery to ensure high quality and speed across all devices and connections. The content delivery network (CDN) will move it closer to the user to ensure that they are not affected by technical issues. You can either build your own solution, or choose a pre-made CDN.(why the course industry is broken)

4. Poor Time Management

Students who lack time are the main reason they abandon online classes. Some people are unexpectedly faced with personal situations, but others fail to manage their time well.


Teaching your students time management skills is also a good idea. Students who have trouble managing their time will benefit greatly from a regular planner and reminders about courses and assignments.

5. Motivational Problems

Students can feel discouraged for many reasons, including unclear course outcomes and lack control.(why the course industry is broken)


We cannot control every aspect of motivation, but we can make sure the course is as enjoyable as possible.

  • A learner’s map should be clearly defined with milestones such as knowledge gained and achievements. The student can view this path in their personal account to track their progress and feel satisfied as they get closer to the goal.
  • Varietate the format of content and tasks. It could be interactive training, videos or storytelling.(why the course industry is broken)
  • For example, form a group of students to work together and sometimes do group work. Students feel more engaged when they are part of a larger group.

6. Too much flexibility

Online learning offers students great flexibility. They can choose their own course schedule and take it at their own pace. However, too much flexibility can lead to frustration.


It is easy to fix this problem: Set deadlines for each module, or at least a final deadline, and remind people when they are close. This will ensure that completion rates are extremely low, as “at any moment” often means “at none time”.

7. Manipulative Human Contact

The main problem with online learning is the inability to communicate with teachers and classmates. This can prove frustrating for students. Studies show that students who engage in community and social activities are five times more likely than others to complete the course and sixteen times more likely.(why the course industry is broken)

why the course industry is broken


Albert Bandura’s social-learning theory states that people learn best when they observe others and interact with them. People learn new skills and knowledge by watching how others behave and react to them. Although online learning has its limitations, it is possible to make as many connections as possible within the online community.(why the course industry is broken)

This could include group work, forum, discussions, forums, friendly competitions or debates. Students can also work with teachers and classmates to learn from one another.

8. Too Bulky Chunks Of Information

This is a common situation: You need to take on a huge project and don’t know where you should start. It becomes easier and more manageable if you break down the project into smaller tasks. Education is the same: Too many and too complicated modules can make students feel intimidated.(why the course industry is broken)


This is where microlearning steps in. Microlearning is a learning method that breaks down information into smaller, more digestible learning units that students can understand in a very short time (3-10 minutes). Each unit covers a specific topic, idea or skill. TED_‘s educational videos are a good example of how to implement this approach. Research has shown that microlearning can increase course engagement by more than 50%.(why the course industry is broken)

This approach may be worth exploring and implementing on your eLearning platform. To retain students and make them more successful, get rid of complex topics and modules. Instead, provide structured information in smaller units that are easier to understand.

9. Poor Student Support

If a student encounters a roadblock in traditional classes, they can talk to a teacher about it or share their thoughts with other students. Online education can make students feel isolated, so they may give up when things get difficult.(why the course industry is broken)


This is our job. We need to ensure that students are able to find help for their problems, and feel comfortable asking for it. This can be achieved by offering multiple options for students to get support through the platform. These are just a few examples of what it might look like:

  • You can create FAQ documents and a knowledge base to cover most of the common problems students may face when using the platform.(why the course industry is broken)
  • For those with more common questions, you can offer instant messaging or email support. Intercom is a customer service solution that allows instant messaging.
  • Students should have the opportunity to communicate with each other. This could be a Facebook community, an individual conversation via instant messenger, or an entire forum for students such as Coursera.(why the course industry is broken)
  • Students should have direct access to their instructors for any feedback or assistance. This could be done via chat or a survey like Google Forms.

10. This Information is Far from Real Life

It’s easy for students to lose interest in a topic or entire course if they find the information too abstract.


Only knowledge that can be used is valuable. Your online courses should include practical examples and real-life examples. You should also give students tasks that allow them to apply the knowledge to real problems.(why the course industry is broken)

This will allow you to create a link between eLearning content, its practical application, and make online education more meaningful and valuable for students.

Knowledge would be readily available in a perfect world: Students face problems in their daily work and can access specific solutions through your eLearning platform whenever they need it.(why the course industry is broken)

Wrapping up

We live in an era of sudden changes. Some businesses are closing down, others are being put on hold and only a few have the chance to realize their full potential.

People are desperate to learn online. They are willing to spend their time and money on learning new skills. You must be available to provide them with the best learning experience and keep them coming back to you after the lockdown ends. These 10 challenges will help you get closer to your ambitious goal.(why the course industry is broken)


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